This article first appeared in City & Country, The Edge Malaysia Weekly on October 22, 2018 - October 28, 2018
Jalan Hang Lekiu is a quiet street in Kuala Lumpur city centre, which is intersected in the middle by bustling Jalan Tun Perak.
It links to Jalan Yap Ah Loy at the intersection of Jalan Tun Tan Siew Sin at one end, and with Jalan Bukit Nanas at the intersection of Jalan Gereja at the other.
The street’s namesake, Hang Lekiu, was one of the five legendary warriors — the others were Hang Jebat, Hang Tuah, Hang Lekir and Hang Kasturi — of the Malacca Sultanate in the 15th century. They were close friends and sworn brothers who studied together and practised silat, the Malay martial art.
Jalan Hang Lekiu was included in an early map of KL in 1889. It was then called Klyne Street, after one of the Klyne brothers, who were Melaka-born Eurasians of Dutch descent.
John F Klyne was a surveyor in the Straits Settlements and was involved in planning central KL back then. He was a leading member of the Eurasian Roman Catholic community in KL and one of the founders of the Selangor Museum.
His brother, F C Klyne, was an apothecary and chemist who ran a pharmacy at the junction of High Street (now called Jalan Tun HS Lee) and Klyne Street.
Casinos, known as gambling farms, dotted the street in the early days but were abolished towards the end of the 1910s/early 1920s.
Then, there was a period of time when many legal firms set up office along the street, turning it into the “Chancery Lane of Kuala Lumpur”.
Today, the prewar shoplots there house boutique hotels, restaurants, book stores, convenience stores, banks and a clinic. SEGi College opened its Kuala Lumpur campus at the junction of the street and Jalan Tun Perak.
Ebenezer Bookland Sdn Bhd is a Christian bookstore at the junction of Jalan Hang Lekiu and Jalan Gereja. A chat with the shopkeeper reveals that the shop has been in operation for more than a decade and that the street has always been a quiet place.
Within walking distance of the bookstore is Cathedral of St John in Jalan Bukit Nanas and Telekom Museum in Jalan Raja Chulan — two historical buildings that are worth a visit.
According to Nawawi Tie Leung Real Estate Consultants Sdn Bhd managing director Eddy Wong, there have not been many transactions in Jalan Hang Lekiu. The most recent was in 2017, when a 4-storey shopoffice was sold for RM6 million.
“Generally, I would say the prices of shopoffices in the vicinity range from RM3 million to RM6 million, depending on the condition, number of storeys, frontage, and other factors.”
Jalan Hang Lekiu, he says, is in the older part of the city where the central business district used to be, and parking spaces are limited.
However, the area is currently undergoing regeneration and redevelopment. A potential growth story could be urban heritage tourism given the rich heritage and cultural landmarks in the neighbourhood, such as the Central Market, Sultan Abdul Samad Building and Petaling Street.
Because of this, “hotels and tourism-related activities will move increasingly into this area over time”, he opines.
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